Lisa Hughet delivered the following comments to Raleigh City Council at the October 18, 2022 meeting.

Lisa has lived in Raleigh for nearly 30 years and says “my activism really kicked into high gear during the pandemic. Ironically, coinciding with a new City Council who appears not to have the residents of Raleigh as their highest priority. I’m also active in affordable housing matters and animal rescue.”

Councilor Knight, you received many disparaging comments during the last City Council meeting because of your stance towards CACs. Because you despise the term CAC, does that include people who’ve attended a meeting? Perhaps one in which they found out that the City Council is ignoring the North Hills Small Area Plan that you approved in December 2020 in favor of Kane’s higher density? You said “you will not work with or interact with anyone representing a CAC.” That any such individuals have “no impact or influence on your decisions.” OK, that’s an easy fix. For the CACs who still meet, come up with a new name for your neighborhood meeting. A quick Google search gave me some ideas – Community United, Consensus Coalition, the 5pts Calvary, Hillsborough Heros, Chavis Lions, or a funny one, People I Tolerate.

Councilor Knight, you also will not listen to anyone associated with LivableRaleigh, a website put together to fill the void when you eliminated CACs. Does that include people who visit the website? Or is it easy for you to lump anyone who disagrees with you into these organized groups? Disagreement brings an opportunity for engagement. It’s a starting point to understand concerns and share information. You are entitled to your opinions but you are not entitled to dismiss the very people you are meant to represent.

This is not just about Councilor Knight; he’s just been the most vocal. Many of you defended your vote to disband CACs because they were inconsistent. At least on the surface that’s what you said. They didn’t follow the same format. They didn’t include the same information or the same people. Well, of course not. They shouldn’t. Each neighborhood is going to have different concerns that are vitally important to them. The city should not be running those agendas.

We have been waiting nearly three years for your better, more improved version of engagement. Tiesha Hinton has proven herself to be very capable as the Community Engagement lead. As the Mayor listed her accomplishments during the Mayoral candidate forum, many are inward focused and those are key to coordinate efforts of all the city departments. But since you disbanded the CACs, she has an uphill battle and the onus has been on us to dig for information and to be heard.

Except for David Cox and (every member of) the Planning department, I have never received an answer to my emails or voice mails. I can’t imagine how those have multiplied since, per Councilor Knight, people have no legitimate forum to get their questions answered. CACs may not have been perfect, but they were something that neighbors could use to raise issues or questions and hear about what the city is planning or what development is happening. It gave people a voice.